By Norman Isaac Mwambazi
As the government rolls out vaccination of Ugandans for COVID-19, many Ugandans expect the economy to be fully reopened by the government in the coming weeks and rightly so.
Although several sectors of the economy were reopened after the country underwent three gruelling months of lockdown, other sectors like entertainment, that is concerts, bars, nightclubs remained suspended for operations, and public transport is still restricted to carrying half the capacity of passengers they are licensed to carry. The same is true for the 9 p.m. curfew.
There has been an outcry from those affected by these restrictions, and they have held several engagements with the government to have these lifted. After over a year of restriction, the Cabinet has directed the National Taskforce on COVID-19 to review the remaining standard operating procedures (SOPs) with an aim of lifting the 9 p.m. curfew.
Sources close to the matter told this website that in a special Cabinet meeting last week, most of the ministers requested President Museveni to lift the curfew and open the economy since the infections were under control.
Yesterday, in Parliament yesterday, government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa, confirmed that a special Cabinet sitting last week directed the taskforce on COVID-19 to review the remaining prevention measures, including a curfew.
“Last week, Cabinet decided that the national task force sits and reviews all those SOPs. The matter is very important; the private sector is crying and including us the MPs. You leave here thinking about the curfew and yet you have work to do,” Nankabirwa said.
During yesterday’s session, lawmakers asked the government to lift curfew and also open sections of the economy that have remained closed.
Yesterday MPs argued on the floor of Parliament that with the economy almost back to normal, there is no need to keep the curfew and continuous closure of some businesses.
Kilak South MP Gilbert Olanya said the security operatives have taken it upon themselves to intimidate the people caught on the wrong side of the curfew and extort money from them if they are to be left to go.
“Ugandans are crying silently. Money is being extorted from them. The people who are suffering most are the boda boda people. Their motorcycles are impounded but to get it back they are asked to pay Shs50,000 which they cannot work in a day. Why can’t this curfew be removed?” Olanya asked.
Kumi Municipality MP Silas Aogon argued that with many Ugandans facing economic hardships due to the closure of businesses, Uganda should learn from the ban of maize export to Kenya to open up the economy because that incident is sending more people into poverty, as there are limited alternatives.
He said other businesses they would opt for can be carried out in the night, especially in towns but curfew gives them no chance.
“It is time for us to recover. There is no need for meetings. Allow Ugandans to trade because we are doing badly. Open the country so that we can trade,” he said.
While pronouncing herself on the matter, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said some of the measures still in place are a violation of human rights.
“This is a matter which is very urgent. What is the use of the curfew now? This is a matter of human rights,” Kadaga said.
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